Member benefits

Can a disabled veteran be disciplined for absences while receiving medical treatment?

A disabled veteran who is directed to report for observation or treatment by a duly authorized medical authority must be granted leave and the absence cannot be used against the employee for disciplinary purposes.

This right to be absent from work to receive medical treatment without threat of discipline has its root in an Executive Order issued, by then President Herbert Hoover, in 1930 (M-00165):

Executive Order
Special Leaves of Absence to be Given Disabled Veterans in Need of Medical Treatment

With respect to medical treatment of disabled veterans who are employed in the executive civil service of the United States, it is hereby ordered that, upon the presentation of an official statement from duly constituted medical authority that medical treatment is required, such annual or sick leave as may be permitted by law and such leave without pay as may be necessary shall be granted by the proper supervisory officer to a disabled veteran in order that the veteran may receive such treatment, all without penalty in his efficiency rating.

The granting of such leave is contingent upon the veteran's giving prior notice of definite days and hours of absence required for medical treatment in order that arrangements may be made for carrying on the work during his absence.



Herbert Hoover

The White House,
July 17, 1930.

In 1988, NALC and USPS agreed the 1930 Executive Order by President Hoover applied to disabled veterans who are letter carriers (M-00866).

Under these circumstances, the granting of such leave is contingent upon the veteran giving prior notice of definite days and hours of absence required. Additionally, the veteran is required to provide documentation to demonstrate the absence meets the qualifying requirements.

The requested leave can be annual leave, sick leave or leave without pay. Typically, when an employee request for leave without pay (LWOP) in lieu of paid leave (annual leave or sick leave) is granted, it is at the employer’s discretion. However, requests for LWOP by qualifying disabled veterans for medical treatment is an exception and must be granted. This exception can be found in the Employee and Labor Relations Manual (ELM), Section 514.22:

514.22 Administrative Discretion

Each request for LWOP is examined closely, and a decision is made based on the needs of the employee, the needs of the Postal Service, and the cost to the Postal Service.  The granting of LWOP is a matter of administrative discretion and is not granted on the employee's demand except as provided in collective bargaining agreements or as follows:

a. A disabled veteran is entitled to LWOP, if necessary, for medical treatment.